A new development in the alleged torture and killing of a cat last month — shocking footage of which went viral and sparked outrage in Indonesia — may lead to the prosecution of its alleged abusers despite their claims that it was done as a “social experiment.”
Yesterday, police in Tulungagung, East Java announced the results of their autopsy of the feline.
“The cause of the cat’s death has been confirmed to be alcohol that was found in its body,” Tulungagung Police Crime Investigation Unit Head Hendi Septiadi told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Kumparan.
Hendi added that there was evidence of a fracture and numerous bruises on the cat’s body, suggesting that it was physically abused as well.
Last month, a man, identified by his initials AAH, posted several highly disturbing video stories on Instagram showing the cat dying. According to AAH in the videos, he forced the cat to drink ciu (fermented sugarcane liquor), causing it to spasm violently and eventually die. At one point, someone believed to be AAH also held up the cat’s head to force bluish liquid down its mouth.
Notably, the videos were posted with captions that implied the alleged abuse was intentional, such as, “I hope you (the cat) will be restless in the afterlife. Take revenge against me,” and, “Thank you. Because of you, I can make this status.”
However, after the videos went viral and elicited outrage in Indonesia, AAH posted a clarification video in which he said he actually tried to help the cat drink coconut water after it ingested poison. He said he deliberately spread the lie about the liquor as a social experiment to see if netizens would make the videos go viral through collective outrage and without verification.
Animal Defenders Indonesia founder Doni Herdaru Tona, who, along with other animal activists, have been pressuring the authorities to investigate the case, said that this case could set an important precedent for other cases of animal abuse to be treated with sincerity by law enforcement.
“The police were amused at first … This is the first case for the Tulungagung Agung police involving [the autopsy] of a cat. The general public may ask, ‘Why go through such lengths?’ We say this is for justice, so this doesn’t happen again,” Doni told Coconuts.
“We want to protect Indonesia from people who hurt animals, because they may hurt people in the future.”
Doni initially demanded that AAH be charged with violation of the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE) — which criminalizes content depicting abuse being spread online — but, in light of the autopsy, he said that it’s likely that AAH, as well as several accomplices, be charged with animal abuse as well.
Animal abuse is generally not considered to be a serious offense in Indonesia. Under the Criminal Code, animal abuse that leads to the death of the animal is a crime only punishable by up to nine months’ imprisonment, as well as a minuscule IDR300 (US$0.02) fine. Animal rights activists have long called for a revision to the law, which was drawn up during the Dutch colonial era, to introduce harsher punishments to prevent animal cruelty.
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